Adalbert of Prague, St.
ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ST.
Bishop, martyr; b. probably at Libice, the ancestral stronghold of his family, 956; d. near Danzig, April 23, 997. He was baptized Vojtech and was a member of the East Bohemian princely dynasty of Slavnik. At confirmation he took the name Adalbert, the name of the first archbishop of Magdeburg, who had supervised his education. Because of his great piety and demonstrated ability, the young Adalbert was chosen bishop of Prague in 982, after the death of Thietmar, the first bishop of Prague, a German by birth. Thus Adalbert was the first Czech to occupy the See of Prague. His position was particularly important owing to the great influence of the Slavnik family to which he belonged. A man of austerity, energy, and zeal, Adalbert strove to improve and reform his clergy, to suppress abuses and pagan survivals, and to spread Christianity throughout Bohemia and neighboring Hungary. His activity, however, aroused the enmity of the extreme nationalists, who sympathized with the old pagan traditions, and led to a conflict with the Duke of Bohemia,
Boleslas II. Adalbert, when forced to leave Prague, went to Rome, where he became a monk at the Benedictine Abbey of SS. Alexius and Boniface. In 992 he was persuaded to return to Prague, but found it necessary to leave again in 995. In that same year Boleslas II treacherously attacked Libice and massacred all the members of the Slavnik family and their principal supporters. Refused permission to return to his see, Adalbert obtained a release from his episcopal obligations from John XV and dedicated himself entirely to missionary activity. A close friend of Emperor otto iii, Adalbert was his trusted adviser on problems concerned with the progressive Christianization of the Slavs. Adalbert was also a close friend and collaborator of SS. romuald and bruno of querfurt. In 995 he accepted the invitation of King Boleslas I the Great of Poland to organize missionary work among the heathen Prussians on the Baltic coast, where he met a martyr's death. His body was ransomed by King Boleslas and buried at Gniezno, Poland, and in 1039 was translated to Prague.
Feast: April 23.
Bibliography: Adalbert von Prag: Brückenbauer zwischen dem Osten und Westen Europas, ed. h. h. henrix (Baden-Baden 1997). Svatý Vojtech: sborník k mileniu, ed. j. v. polc (Prague 1997). j. canaparius, Vita s. Adalberti in v.1 of Fontes rerum Bohemicarum, 7 v. (Prague 1873–1932). e. johansson, Studien zu Nicolaus von Jeroschins Adalbertübersetzung (Lund 1967). bruno of querfurt, Vita s. Adalberti, ibid. h. g. voigt, Adalbert v. Prag (Berlin 1898). f. dvornik, The Making of Central and Eastern Europe (London 1949); The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilization (Boston 1956); Svatý Vojtech: druhý prazský biskup (Olomouc 1997). j. krasÍnski, Milenium sw. Wojciecha, 997–1997 (Sandomierz 1997). j. wyrozumski, Legenda pruska o swietym Wojciechu (Krakow 1997). Ezer év Szent Adalbert oltalma alatt, ed. a. hegedÜs and i. bÁrdos (Esztergom 2000).
[o. p. sherbowitz-wetzor]